Robert Meyerhoff's 4-year-old homebred Include rallied from fifth place to upset 3-5 favorite Albert the Great in final strides of the $750,000 Pimlico Special Handicap (gr. I) Saturday at Pimlico. Under Jerry Bailey, the 2.5-1 second choice earned the hard fought neck-length victory by completing the 1 3/16 miles in 1:55.61 on fast track while drifting out in the stretch.
"He came through a very narrow opening," said Bailey. "He never batted an eye, never flinched. He was very game to run down Albert the Great, because I don't believe he quit much. My horse just ran him down."
"My horse gave me everything he had to offer," said Albert the Great's rider Jorge Chavez. "It's tough to lose a close race like that, but it's part of the game."
Laredo, entered as a rabbit for stablemate Milwaukee Brew, set moderate early fractions while tracked by Albert the Great. Include had a somewhat troubled start but was never far back while fifth after a half-mile in :47.13. Laredo continued to show the way while running six furlongs in 1:11.45 as Albert the Great moved closer to the lead. Albert the Great swept to the lead in upper stretch but was run down in the stretch by the winner.
"He (Include) didn't want to lose, and he didn't," said Meyerhoff, who won his first Pimlico Special in four tries.
Pleasant Breeze, second to Golden Missile in last year's renewal, was 3 3/4 lengths farther back in third. It was another six lengths back to Milwaukee Brew, followed by Laredo and Sergeant York.
Include remains undefeated this year from four starts, including a win in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II). As a 3-year-old, the Grover Delp trainee won four straight races before being upset as the favorite in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. III). He earned $450,000 for the win, his eighth in 11 starts.
"He's for real. He's Grade I," said Delp.
Include is a Maryland-bred son of Broad Brush -- an outcross sire to Northern Dancer and Raise A Native blood -- out of the Stop the Music mare Illeria, giving him three crosses to Turn-to in his first four generations. Include is also bred 5x5 to stamina influence Ribot, and 4x5 to Kentucky Oaks winner Hidden Talent.
Include returned $7, $2.60, and $2.10. Albert the Great paid $2.10 and $2.10. Pleasant Breeze was worth $2.10 to show. The winning exacta combination returned $14.60 and the trifecta $33.20.
Earlier on the card, City Zip sat just off the pace and drew away to win the $75,000 Hirsch Jacobs Stakes by three lengths. (Chart, Equibase